Moby Monday — Moby-Dick breaches in Dallas

On Friday, the Dallas Opera presents the world premiere of composer Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick. The idea came from playwright Terrence McNally, Heggie’s collaborator on Dead Man Walking in 2000. When McNally first suggested creating an opera from Melville’s audaciously sweeping whaling tome, Heggie has said, “my answer was a big yes and a gasp of amazement, all at the same time.”

Because McNally was ill with lung cancer, the job of writing the libretto for Moby-Dick eventually fell to Gene Scheer. Though Scheer used Melville’s language whenever possible, he did help make at least one fairly radical change: the narrator is called not “Ishmael” but “Greenhorn.” [Sic!!!]

But some things are sacrosanct: there’s still a mad Pip (though he’s played by a girl, soprano Talise Trevigne), and there’s still a stalwart Starbuck.

Margaret Guroff is editor and publisher of Power Moby-Dick.

Moby Monday — A cobbler’s job

UK-based graphic designer Veronica Martinis has imagined a Moby-Dick wedge sandal: the whale’s flukes wrap around the wearer’s toes, and its spout forms the ankle strap.

Martinis isn’t the first shoe designer to be inspired by Melville’s tome. Naturally, there’s already a line of boat shoes called “Mobydick.”

I also found some pink canvas Keds silkscreened with a passage from the book. Curiously, it’s a passage about a squid with “innumerable long arms radiating from its centre, and curling and twisting like a nest of anacondas…” I”m no shoe designer, but that sounds more like gladiator sandals to me.

Margaret Guroff is editor and publisher of Power Moby-Dick.

Moby Monday — Monster mashups

The website Woot is holding a design competition for best “classic literature mashup” to print on a T-shirt. Moby-Dick is well-represented among the entrants. In one design, The Owl and the Pussycat float inside the contented whale’s belly; in another, Tom Sawyer’s whitewashed fence bears Moby Dick’s silhouette. There’s also a whale-besotted Little Mermaid and a bridled Moby Dick with Odysseus (?) on his back.

For my money though, the best Moby-Dick mashup isn’t a T-shirt but a comic book—Huckleberry Dick, a collage of two Classics Illustrated comics by Paris photographer Ricardo Bloch. Interweaving the first-person tales of watery voyages, Bloch discovers new humor and absurdity. (He also brings Moby-Dick’s thinly veiled homoeroticism to the fore.) The collage, created with scissors and glue in 1995, was recently published in a limited facsimile edition of 250, available for about $30 via PayPal.

Margaret Guroff is the editor and publisher of Power Moby-Dick.

Moby Monday — A Farewell Fit for a Cannibal

It’s SkyMall’s moment. On the heels of Nina Katchadourian’s infectious "Sky Mall Kitties," a tribute in song, comes new attention to the 2006 parody book SkyMaul: Happy Crap You Can Buy From a Plane. Among the book’s pages of “Reality-Cancelling Headphones” and “Adultery Detectors” you’ll find the "Moby-Dick Hamster Coffin, a “hand-carved mini-coffin” designed to give your fluffy friend the burial-at-sea he deserves—or the life-buoy he so desperately needs.

Margaret Guroff is the editor and publisher of Power Moby-Dick.

Moby Monday — A Springy Thingie

Illustrator Mat Hudson, aka Orphan Elliott, has designed a line of spectacularly bright posters to encourage “the joy and excitement of reading,” he says.

With its sunny backdrop and shattered-glass ocean spray, Hudson’s Moby Dick does seem joyous, despite the whale’s precarious position in front of a darted harpoon. Then again, the harpooneer’s position is plenty precarious too. Is this what narrator Ishmael would call "a joint-stock company of two"?

Margaret Guroff is editor and publisher of Power Moby-Dick.

Moby Monday — Cetacean Suggests Sartorial Splendor

Montreal designer Philip Sparks’s fall 2010 menswear collection claims Moby-Dick as its inspiration, though one impressed reviewer says the models look less like working whalemen than like "sailors on shore leave looking for trouble." The getups include pea coats, trench coats, tweed blazers … and even some cropped, supposedly "motorcycle-inspired" toppers that narrator Ishmael would recognize as monkey jackets.

Margaret Guroff is editor and publisher of Power Moby-Dick.

Moby Monday — Moby Dick Speaks

The British humor podcast Simulacrum interviews Moby Dick on his life since Moby-Dick:

Chris Skinner: Are you ever going to declare war on the Japanese and those Icelandics who are still trying to hunt you down?

Moby Dick: … I don’t really want to go after them, cause they’ve got much more advanced machinery than me.

CS: Have you any machinery? Have you like, sort of, like, flipper guns?

MD: Not weapons of war. I’ve recently discovered a spindle for my weaving purposes, but other than that, no.

CS: You weave?

MD: I’ve done a bit of weaving in the past.

CS: Tell me about it.

MD: Generally I get a bit of cotton around the spindle, I get me flipper, and [imitates sound of spinning].

CS: And what’s the end product?

MD: Usually a very soggy bit of cotton.

Segments of the podcast about penis size and cross-species mating may not be suitable for children and other living things.

Margaret Guroff is editor and publisher of Power Moby-Dick.